Letters to a Young Mormon (2nd Edition)

by Adam S. Miller

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This book is composed as a series of letters. The letters are meant for a young Mormon who is familiar with Mormon life but green in his or her faith. The author, philosophy professor Adam S. Miller, imagined himself writing these letters to his own children. In doing so, he struggled to say his own piece about what it means to be—as a Mormon—free, ambitious, repentant, faithful, informed, prayerful, selfless, hungry, chaste, and sealed.

The letters do little to benchmark a Mormon orthodoxy. That work belongs to those called to it. Here, Miller's work is personal. He means only to address the real beauty and real costs of trying to live a Mormon life and hopes to show something of what it means to live in a way that refuses to abandon either life or Mormonism.

This second edition of Letters to a Young Mormon includes all the content of the original, well-loved book, with added chapters on the Sabbath and stewardship, as well as a new preface by the author, which provides additional framing and context for his writing.

"This book frustrated me. Not that I didn't like it, because I enjoyed it immensely. No, it frustrated me because I only wish I had had such a book to read when I was a 1960s teenager with racing mind and hormones. And perhaps more poignantly, I wish it had been available when my children were passing through those difficult and impressionable years. Both tender and gentle, and at the same time provocative and intellectually stimulating, its disarming honesty is only surpassed by the significance of its messages. I recommend it wholeheartedly, for young and old."
Robert L. Millet, former Dean of Religious Education, Brigham Young University

"Employing a witty, upbeat sense of life, the author teaches without being preachy and encourages deep reflection of serious messages in the gospel of Christ."
Deseret News, review of first edition

"Reading it, I felt less tired and more awakened to the climbs and depths of my life and faith. . . . I whole-hardheartedly love this very small and not so simple book; I’ve passed it on to so many others and now I recommend it on to you. A thought-provoking, beautifully written collection of ideas, insight and inspiration by Adam S. Miller."
Segullah, review of first edition

"Faithful, smart, witty, well-written, and accessible—the perfect book for any thoughtful LDS young person."
James E. Faulconer, former Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding, Brigham Young University

"Miller writes with a directness and depth that will challenge youth and adult readers to delve a bit more deeply into their own thoughts and beliefs."
Association for Mormon Letters, review of first edition

Product Details

Book on CDUnabridged, 2 discs
Size4.25 x 7
PublishedDeseret Book 2017
Book on CD Read ByAdam S. Miller
Book on CD Run TimeApprox. 2.3 hours

About the Author

Adam S. Miller

Adam S. Miller is a professor of philosophy at Collin College in McKinney, Texas. He earned a BA in comparative literature from Brigham Young University and and MA and PhD in philosophy from Villanova University. He and his wife, Gwen Miller, have three children. He is the author of many books, including Letters to a Young Mormon, Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology, Grace is Not God’s Backup Plan, and The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace.

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Average rating:

(based upon 15 reviews)

For the thoughtful mormon
By , Submitted on 2018-08-08

When I saw the title of this book, I knew immediately I had to read it. Those of you who have read Rilke, I'm sure you felt the same. This book is not for the average teen or parent. This book is for those who like to think, to contemplate, to ask questions and receive sweet personal revelation. I grew up in a house where if you asked a question, you were ready to hear the answer. Thank you dear parents for being open with me always! Consequently I do the same with my children. I've had many a conversation with my barely 12 year old about topics most parents would consider talking to their adult children. So it comes with no surprise that my 12 year old son, is enjoying this book. He loved the chapter on Scripture, that hooked him.

As a parent, I urge to not limit your children's level of understanding because you found the book hard to read. Let them decide, support them, love them. It is a beautiful book, one that can help them truly seek their own testimony. I think every parent wishes that for their children.

Not Impressed
By , Submitted on 2018-04-10

I purchased this book thinking it would be something I could give to my daughter who is struggling with her own testimony. I was hoping it would help her reach helpful insights and help her develop her own thoughts
and questions. This book is deeply philosophical and hard for even myself to read. It drags on and on with no real soul or helpful insights. Sorry, but not what the title predicates.

Zen Mormonism
By , Submitted on 2018-03-13

So, we have a post-modern, Zen slant to Mormonism …

I have mixed feelings about this book. If you think this book might be helpful, then go for it. For a drowning person, if there is no lifesaver, driftwood will do.

In writing this, I respect where Adam Miller is at in his pilgrimage of consecration. But I also what to be honest about concerns I have with this book.

My main trouble is the pale, anemic Christology. There is no chapter on Christ. And ditto for Joseph Smith.

This is troubling. The First Presidency stated that “Two great truths must be accepted by mankind if they shall save themselves: first, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Only Begotten, the very Son of God, whose atoning blood and resurrection save us from the physical and spiritual death brought to us by the Fall; and next, that God has restored to the earth, in these last days, through the Prophet Joseph, his Holy Priesthood with the fullness of the everlasting gospel, for the salvation of all men on the earth. Without these truths man may not hope for the riches of the life hereafter.” (Improvement Era, Apr. 1935, 205).

And think of Pres. Russell M. Nelson's hefty study of the life of Christ prior to his call as prophet.

Miller states that he does “little to benchmark a Mormon orthodoxy.” It is more of a seeker-centered approach, celebrating “the real beauty and real costs of trying to live a Mormon life.” (xi)

Fair enough. But our beliefs shepherd our behavior. And we should take to heart Elder Russell M. Nelson's observation that “we don't use the terms 'orthodox' and 'unorthodox' in the Church. We either believe revealed truth or we don't believe it.” (The Power within Us, 35).

Compare his chapter on sin to Alma 42, or his chapter on prayer to the book of Enos.

Prayer. In this chapter he talks about breathing and being silent for 10 days. These are more of Zen meditation techniques, than prayer.

Likewise, his chapter on scriptures also talks about reading good books—Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Confucius. This is good, but fine literature is not scripture.

His chapter on stewardship is about environmentalism. Stewardships can be intangible. A lawyer has a stewardship in the law, etc.

The terms “eternal lives” refers to having children as an exalted couple (D&C 132:19, 30, 63).

So … Hmm …. If anyone needs help, I heartily recommend drinking from the Book of Mormon. If someone needs a “book,” then go to “We're With You”.

And for those not faint-of-heart, grab Stephen J. Stirling's, “Shedding Light on the Dark Side.”

(Notice the last name: Stirling. Yup. He's the father of the violinist. I honestly would like to know what family home evenings were like in that household!)

By , Submitted on 2018-03-11

I have given several copies of this book away to young and old readers. The chapter on work is amazingly beautiful. The fresh approach to sorting out struggles and questions and troubles we feel is too good to not share. Thank you Adam Miller for making a second attempt at an already lovely lovely book. Please give this book a chance. You will be glad you did.

By , Submitted on 2018-02-22

While I did learn new things reading this book, I found some of the thoughts a little too radical for my taste. The book seems to be more scholarly and logical than spiritual. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it just wasn't what I was expecting after reading the book summary.

Must Read for Parents and Youth
By , Submitted on 2018-02-22

This collection of letters is the perfect conversation starter for parents and youth! At a time when attention spans are dwindling, this collection of letters provides a thorough review of vital principles with a brevity that will encourage any youth to open the book and read. Some sensitive (albeit necessary) topics are handled appropriately and follow-up conversations with trusted parents would reinforce true principles. Another great parenting tool in a difficult day and age!

Letters to a Young Mormon (2nd Editio)
By , Submitted on 2018-02-21

The title of this book didn’t immediately send it to the top of my “books I really want to read” list, but I was thoroughly drawn in before the end of the first letter. The author takes challenging gospel topics and paints a very realistic picture of what a life living that element of the gospel would look like. His letters are full of compassion for when the reader inevitability falls short, and encouragement to keep striving. I enjoyed these thought provoking letters and felt they would be of value to any student of the gospel, regardless of age.

Not a book that I could see teens reading
By , Submitted on 2018-02-21

I did not find the paperback version of this book captivating, so I tried the audio book to give it a chance. I felt like the preface was all about him and barely about the book. I got sick of him talking so much about himself. At first the letters feel weird to listen to since he addresses them all to "S" and you feel like you are reading someone else's intimate letter, which leaves the reader uncomfortable. However, these letters do not feel like they could be a letter the father is writing to a child. They just sound like mini lectures and not fatherly advice. I think he tries to be funny but he is just boring. He dedicated a whole chapter to "the most important thing in prayer is to not fall asleep." True, but he fails to teach things like you can pray anywhere, at any time, in any place. He makes the youth feel like it has to be done in a specific way. The author's voice is not easy on the ears. I found the audio version rather annoying until I got further into it an more used to it. He is very monotone and almost sounds like a computer reading at times. The only reason I am giving this book two stars is because I felt like he did a great job covering the last few chapters, especially the chapters that talked about sexual purity and the temple. I really wish this book had been written differently. I see where he was trying to go with it, but it failed miserably. If you have Plus and can listen free it might be worth it to you, but I honestly feel like I just lost 2 1/2 hours of my life. I would not recommend this book, maybe I would recommend the last 3 chapters or so, but not the book.

Letters to a Young Mormon (2nd Edition)
By , Submitted on 2018-02-21

I'm still pondering some of the letters. They can lead to deeper thinking on each subject. In some places, I felt it might be over the head of some teens, but for the most part I really enjoyed them. I actually started putting myself into the shoes of a teenager and wished I had a dad that could have written these to me. I intend to reread them and consider each one more in-depth. Definitely an important perspective on the different aspects of the life we encounter!

good concept but I struggled with the execution
By , Submitted on 2018-02-20

I really like the concept of this book - the short "letter" style. However, I really struggled with the content. Honestly, I have not been able to finish it. I have worked with the youth for 5.5 of the last 6 years. I cannot see any of them sitting down to read this. I felt like the author was trying too hard to use analogies, examples, etc. that were good but would have been much better in simpler English. My brain hurt trying to grasp the point he was trying to make. In this case, simple would be much better. Maybe the rest of the book improves after the first several letters I read.

By , Submitted on 2018-02-16

This book can make any reader ponder about gospel principles that are not the normal Sunday discussion. I have never thought of 'Hunger' driving every action of our lives, but in truth it certainly does. The author's thoughts on Science seem to represent questions on both sides of the problem and yet he balances them so well. I would recommend this book to Young and Not-So-Young Mormons anywhere. Do we ever stop learning and trying to find the mysteries of Heaven?

Timely advice for young Mormons of our world.
By , Submitted on 2018-02-09

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this book when I first started to read it. You never quite know what you're going to get with non-fiction. I was pleasantly surprised with the readability of it.

I thought the author did a good job of writing each of these letters. They come across as a letter from someone who cares deeply about another person and just wants to help them be able to be the best person they can be. I loved the way the advice was timely and perfectly suited to the way our world is currently.

I loved how the author included snippets of their own life experiences to add to the letters. That makes them all the better.

This is a book that all young adults should read. It will help them learn to be the people they should be, develop their own faith and hopefully not hate rules and their parents as much!

By , Submitted on 2018-02-09

What a wonderful book! At first I wasn’t so sure of the format but as I continued reading I almost felt like the letters were to me! It was a great way to share gospel principles in a way that was at time direct but not in an authoritative way but a kind, and thoughtful way. I throughly enjoyed it!

Reminiscent of C.S. Lewis Writings
By , Submitted on 2018-02-05

While the content is highly debatable for the average "Mormon" teen or college youth, I find the letters to be profoundly significant. Miller's creativity with the English language shines through in a manner reminiscent of C.S. Lewis. His thoughts on living life to the fullest are nothing short of stark reality. I don't think it is ever too late to take a personal inventory of one's goals, motivations, and habits. This book allows the reader a chance to reflect and make changes as needed.

Letters of value ideas that lift off the page
By , Submitted on 2018-01-28

Adam Miller has invested a lot of time to pondering and reflecting on the Gospel of Christ. His insights are unique and sometimes requires us to let go of years of assumption. At first this can cause some uneasiness, but the more I listen the more it weaves the human condition with heaven's order and application. I can't get enough of brother Miller's words. At times I feel a little guilty of casually enjoying the fruits of his years of finding and searching for meaning of life and how to apply the Gospel. Just when you've think you've heard it all in Gospel sound bytes... Behold here comes Adam Miller!

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